Biggest Global Holidays – While Christmas makes headlines in many Western countries, around the world, and even across the United States, countless winter celebrations take place. Some of the most famous and well-known holidays are religious in nature, but some stem from nature itself, acknowledging the darkest day of the year and the inevitable return of the sun, while others honor cultural traditions.
Hanukkah—Hebrew for “dedication”—is a Jewish holiday based on the story of the menorah in the Second Temple in Jerusalem, which burned for eight days despite only having a day’s supply of oil. The temple had just been rededicated to God after the Maccabean Revolt, in which the Jews rose up to defeat the larger Greco-Syrian army that oppressed them. This was seen as a miracle, and thus, Hanukkah was born.
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On the eight nights of Hanukkah, one candle in the menorah is lit by the Shamash candle – the ninth candle is used to light all the others. The evening lighting ceremony was accompanied by a special prayer, followed by the singing of traditional songs. Retelling the story of Hanukkah. Traditional dishes such as potato pancakes called latkes and jelly donuts called sufganiyot are fried in oil in homage to the original oil-based wonder. Many Jewish families exchange gifts — one each night for eight nights — wrapped in traditional silver and blue paper or gift bags.
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The top—a square hat emblazoned with the Hebrew letters nun, gimel, hei, and shin, an acronym for “where miracles happen”—is a common Hanukkah toy. When playing tops, each player bets on coins, nuts, candy or other prizes. How many pots you get depends on which side the top lands on when you spin it.
In 2012, husband and wife Kathleen and Fabian Guavida played Mary and Joesph during Las Posadas at Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach, California.
Popular in Mexico and Central America, Las Posadas means “hotel” in Spanish. It commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem to find a place to live. Every night of the nine-day festival, a child dressed as an angel leads a procession through town. Children wear golden robes and hold candles and pictures of Mary and Joseph. Adults followed, many of them playing music, as they stopped in front of houses to ask for accommodation. When they are denied accommodation based on the original story, they read Bible passages and sing Christmas carols.
After the procession, Mass is held every night, followed by the breaking of a piñata, usually in the shape of a star, in honor of the man who led the Three Wise Men to the birthplace of Jesus.
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The pagan celebration of the darkest day of the year, originally called Yule, is one of the oldest winter holidays in history. At its core is the rebirth of the Sun—welcoming longer days—which has long been seen as a powerful time for energetic renewal and introspection. Historically, Yule—also known as Christmastide or Yuletide—was celebrated by placing a large oak tree in the hearth. The tree is cut down on the winter solstice and the Yule log is slowly pushed into the fire for the 12 days of Christmas. This ritual became the basis of the modern Christmas log decorated with candles and berries, usually placed on the mantel or altar.
Other rituals to be followed in winter celebrations include the use of evergreen boughs, holly, ivy and mistletoe in the home, which is believed to be a way of harnessing the life and protective powers of these plants. Sonargöltr – the sacrifice and roasting of a wild boar – is considered the basis of today’s traditional Christmas ham.
Modern celebrations include meditation, nature-themed gift exchanges, making evergreen wreaths, candlelight celebrations and spending time with nature to honor and celebrate its many gifts.
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On Tuesday, December 22, the Zuni and Hopi Native American tribes of the southern United States celebrated the winter solstice with a ritual to lure back the sun god, who was believed to have left the tribe during the winter. It also marks a new cycle for Wheel of the Year. Traditionally seen as a time of purification, for the Hopi it is a 16-day celebration that includes prayers, supplications, storytelling from tribal elders and ends with a feast.
During the celebration on December 22, members of the tribe put on masks and costumes to represent the Kachina spirit—a spirit believed to support the community—and perform a dance. Children are traditionally given a doll representing the Kachina spirit as a gift.
It’s easy to mistake Christmas now for two months out of the year when everyone is streaming Hallmark movies, consumerism, ugly sweaters, Black Friday, and how early?
Put up the tree early, and bold holiday advertising moves with the times. Of course, Christmas begins with the story of Jesus’ birth in a manger, and for Christians everywhere, that’s still the reason for the season.
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Most Americans love Christmas – 93 percent say they celebrate it, while only 65 percent identify as Christians. It has become a symbol of family, love, comfort and joy. This is the time of year we stop to get together and 67% of our staff take Christmas off at least.
Christmas in the US is also a trillion dollar industry, with $10.8 billion spent on Cyber Monday in 2020 alone. Between baking, decorating, holiday movies and gifts, Americans will spend about $1,500 per household. This is the most beautiful and expensive time of the year.
Founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor and Chair of Black Studies at Colorado State University, Long Beach, Kwanzaa, derived from the Swahili word for “firstfruits,” honors African-American culture. Candles are lit on each of the seven nights of Kwanzaa – a candlelight ceremony in which participants light candles representing one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective work/responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. A discussion of each principle follows.
Kwanzaa also commemorates seven symbols, starting with a placemat on which are placed six other symbols – a menorah, seven candles, plants, corn, a cup of unity and gifts. Along with the black, red and green Flag flags – whose colors represent the people, their struggles and the hope their struggles bring – and African artworks, the festival aims to reflect on and celebrate the culture and contributions of society at large.
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No matter how you choose to celebrate Eid, what all these traditions have in common is unity. While celebrations in 2020 may look a little different — and on a smaller scale — there’s never been a better time to honor all that we have and those we love.
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After I got divorced, renting out my house saved me something and reading other people’s love letters taught me how to plan dates that fit each sign. But what exactly is this holiday, and how do you teach your students about it? Lucky Little Learners has the perfect resource to help your students become Global Vacation Masters!
Holidays around the world make great teaching units for December. Take your students on a journey around the world to learn about the festivals of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali and Chinese New Year. Let’s see how to do this in your elementary school classroom in a practical and interesting way.
We all know that picture books are a great hook for any classroom. Why not start your vacation around the world unit with this great vacation read.
There are many great children’s books to share holiday traditions from other countries. One of my favorites is Christmas around the world
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.It’s filled with tons of kid-friendly information about 12 different countries, some art project ideas, and some great photos.
Another favorite of mine is Santa’s Cookie World: Follow Santa’s Taste Around the World. this